MTC Works: “The Journey towards Mastery Learning”

By December 2, 2019 No Comments

Whether you are just beginning to think about transforming high school for your students or well along that journey, you will find this deep read full of useful tactics, strategies, and firsthand wisdom.

MTC is pleased to introduce the publication, “The Journey towards Mastery Learning: The Steps and Stages to Mastery Credits and the Mastery Transcript,” coauthored by mastery learning experts Chris Sturgis and Katherine Casey, along with MTC’s Senior Director of Member Engagement Susan Bell. This is the second in a series of publications MTC is producing (“MTC Works”) during 2019-2020, following on the earlier theory of action paper, “Getting Our Signals Straight for Students.” The goal of “The Journey towards Mastery Learning” is to provide MTC member schools–and others who are thinking about joining the MTC movement–with a framework for reimagining high school and transitioning to mastery learning … and ultimately the MTC Mastery Transcript. Read on for more.

Most school leaders in mastery-based learning systems had no specific roadmap for change, so anticipating the challenges inherent in transforming very entrenched and traditional school systems is nearly impossible. MTC has learned a great deal from mastery-based schools, and capturing the organic cadence and focus of these schools’ transformation processes for making the change to personalized, mastery-based learning is what we aim to provide for our member schools in the “Journey to Mastery Learning” framework. By combining practice with wisdom from change theory experts, our hope is that schools will use what we’ve provided in the context of their own unique school communities to advance the future they envision for all of their students.

The paper is intended to support your school’s work in implementing mastery learning, wherever your school finds itself on the journey.  There are multiple on-ramps for beginning the work whether in the classroom, in a subject area, in a school, or across an entire district. We suggest that the journey could be used as a pre-assessment for your leadership team and a reference point along the way as teams begin the work and continue to develop their strategies. Framing conversations with families and the community about the trajectory and timeframe for change will also assist your external stakeholders in understanding the different elements of systemic change that need to take place for the shifts to become institutionalized.

Mastery Design Essentials

Schools do not decide one day to use the Mastery Transcript. The decision to move in this direction requires strategic thinking and decision-making that supports the larger effort of changing the way students experience learning for life. The essential design elements for MBL threaded throughout the “Journey towards Mastery Learning” are critical to ensuring maximum success in the change effort. Each of these elements is worthy of consideration as schools continue on their individual paths to mastery learning and the Mastery Transcript.

  • Community-Driven Vision
  • Graduate Profile
  • Common Learning Framework
  • Common Pedagogy Framework
  • Systems of Balanced Assessment
  • Mastery Credits
  • Timely and Differentiated Supports
  • Transparent Learning Management and Reporting
  • Equity Framework and Strategy
  • Distributed Leadership Structures

Download Now, Join Us

Today, schools—and especially high schools—are asked to prepare all students for the dynamic and evolving worlds of college, career, and life. This will require nothing short of coordinated, transformational change. Download the “Journey towards Mastery Learning” paper now to learn more, and feel free to share it with your colleagues.

Are you interested in becoming a member of MTC? We’d love to hear from you, and set up an initial conversation. By joining MTC, you can be part of a dynamic network of schools that are leading the way to reimagining high school. Get in touch today. Current MTC members are encouraged to log in to our members-only platform,, for ongoing conversations and feedback. 


About Susie Bell

With nearly two decades of experience working in public school systems, Susie will support MTC’s network of member schools as they work together and within their high schools to implement a Mastery Transcript. Susie had previously served as the superintendent of the Windsor Locks Public Schools and had also served Windsor Locks High School in a variety of other roles, including principal and director of guidance. Highlights of her accomplishments include working with colleagues and community members to raise academic expectations by eliminating course levels that held students to low expectations and working with her team and the Board of Education to develop the vision and systemic changes needed to make personalized and mastery-based learning a reality for all children in Windsor Locks. Contact her at